A vehicle spotted underwater in the Saanich Inlet made for a unique Friday evening for Central Saanich emergency crews.
At around 5 p.m. on Nov. 20, a pedestrian on the beach near Henderson Point noticed a vehicle with deployed airbags in the ocean and called 911, said Const. Matt Ball, of the Central Saanich Police Department. He added that the vehicle was too far out for the caller to tell if anyone was inside, so paramedics, the Brentwood Bay Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue, and the Central Saanich Fire Department were also dispatched.
Divers confirmed the vehicle was empty.
The vehicle was found underwater in a cove northeast of Henderson Point, but Ball said no one was sure how it got there because the only access route is a pedestrian path that includes a steep flight of stairs. He’s never seen anything like it in his 17-year policing career.
Officers were able to find the owner of the car – a woman who had been taken to the hospital for mental health-related care just five days earlier, after a caller reported a woman acting erratically. Police assisted her, and she didn’t mention the car but was soaking wet at the time. Ball assumes the woman drove onto the pedestrian path, down the stairs and into the water before climbing out.
The vehicle, which was not leaking fluids, had to be left in the ocean for the time being because there was no obvious way to get it out, as the only access is a pedestrian path that’s too small for a tow truck.
The submerged vehicle has to be treated like a derelict vessel, Ball said. For now, it remains in the cove – marked with a buoy. He noted that while the situation is a head-scratcher and the image of police officers trying to figure out how to pull a vehicle out of the ocean is humourous, the incident could have been deadly had the driver not been able to get out.
Anyone with information on the incident is asked to contact the Central Saanich police non-emergency line at 250-652-4441.